Jose Peraza has played in 16 games for your Cincinnati Reds.  He played in 7 games for someone’s Los Angeles Dodgers.  In total, Peraza has been to the plate 77 times.  Since Bryan Price chose to play a possibly-concussed Billy Hamilton over Peraza on Thursday night, I don’t have to include any caveats like “through Wednesday’s game.” In reality, there really isn’t enough data to draw any meaningful conclusions.

See you next week, folks!

Peraza

Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/Enquirer

Oh. Right. I have to write something.  Hm.  Ok, then!

What we know about Peraza is as follows:

  • He doesn’t (and probably won’t) hit for much power
  • He swings at a lot of pitches
  • As a corollary to the above, he doesn’t walk much
  • He makes a lot of contact
  • He’s extremely fast
  • He was 21 years old on Opening Day
  • Many fans are unhappy with the Reds pursuit of Peraza

Ok, these are our going-in assumptions. I won’t touch on the last bullet until the end of the article.

Since we don’t have a lot of MLB data to do any reasonable trend analysis or predictive analysis, I’m going to do a different sort of analysis; comparisons! Basically, who is a good comp for Jose Peraza?

In order to locate a good comp, we have to identify the things we think will define Peraza as a baseball player.  The first thing that pops into my mind is his plate discipline.  We don’t know exactly what his BB% or K% will be, but we can be pretty sure he’s not Joey Votto, and also pretty sure he’s not Adam Duvall.

The second thing we’ll look at is Peraza’s lack of power.  We’ll try to isolate this variable by using…isolated power (ISO).

Third, Peraza’s speed is going to play a big factor in his overall production, so we’ll look at base running runs above average (BsR).

Fourth, we’re going to look at BABIP, which is partly made up by speed (already accounted for) and how hard you hit the ball.  So, we’ll also look at Soft% and Hard%.

Now that we’ve identified our variables, we need a methodology.  I propose we use z-scores! Do you agree?  I’ll assume you do since I wrote this before you read it.  (Is the cat alive?)

Our sample from which to draw comps will be populated by every player who accumulated at least 1000 PA between 2007 and 2016.  This ends up being 537 players.  Their might be a bit of survivorship bias introduced here, since you have to display some amount of skill to accumulate 1000 PA, but we’ll press on!

I pulled the numbers for BB%, K%, ISO, BsR, BABIP, Soft%, and Hard% for all players in the sample.  Then, I calculated the standard deviation of each stat, as well as the mean.  Here are those figures:

chart1

ISO and BABIP means look right in line with actual league average, so perhaps the bias mentioned earlier isn’t really an issue.

Now, we need to determine the figures we want to use for Peraza.  For BB%, K%, Soft%, and Hard%, I’m going to use his actual MLB numbers from last year and this year.  These stats stabilize quicker than most, so we’ll just go with what Peraza has shown us.  For ISO, I’m going to use .100, because his current ISO of .045 is likely not representative.  For BABIP, I’ll use .315, which is 5-points higher than his 2016 BABIP.  He is not a fly ball hitter and he runs well, so he should run a slightly above-average BABIP.  For BsR, I took his total cumulative BsR and pro-rated it out to a full season.  Here are those figures added in:

chart2

Now that we have all our numbers defined, we need to decide how we want to group them together to create comps.

As a starting point, I’d like to look at Peraza’s plate discipline and his penchant for hitting the ball softly.  Since we’ve already calculated every player’s z-score for every stat, we simply add them up for those selected stats and sort from lowest to highest!  Here are Peraza’s comps based only on BB%, K%, and Soft%. I’ve also presented “6-year WAR” to show the amount of value provided during the theoretical team control years.

chart3

Here we see some interesting characters.  Most interesting, perhaps, is Ichiro Suzuki.  He’s proof that you can be a productive player without walking a lot or hitting a bunch of homers.  He, of course, is a pretty big exception.  Not many people have the bat control of Ichiro necessary to keep the K% down.  Also, Ichiro came with superlative speed and a stance that let him fall towards first as he finished his swing.  As such, Ichiro accumulated nearly 600 infield hits in his career.  Six. Hundred.  Perhaps Peraza will be like Ichiro, but I doubt it.  Let’s look at some different comps.

chart4

In this comp, we’re look at base running value, BABIP, and BB%.  Recall that BABIP is a byproduct of your batted ball profile (grounders, liners, fly balls), your batted ball authority (Soft%, Hard%), and your raw speed!  This list looks vastly different from the first list.  It is, however, populated with many productive players, as well as Willy Taveras.  The fact that we see Mookie Betts and Jeff Kent show up indicates that we need to add a power component into the mix.  Let us choose ISO! Behold:

chart5

Adding in ISO gets rid of Betts and Kent, as expected, and also adds a few familiar faces; Jordan Pacheco (ouch) and Billy Hamilton.  Pacheco is interesting because he really wasn’t a good base runner.  Turns out his BB%, BABIP, and ISO are almost identical to Peraza’s numbers, so he gets on the list.

I’m still not 100% happy with this, so let’s throw the kitchen sink at this and add in K% and Soft%.  So, basically we’re looking for someone who runs very well, doesn’t hit for much power, doesn’t walk a lot, strikes out less than average, and also doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard.  Here’s the final list!

chart6

The first two names here are the same as the last list.  Joe Panik and Ender Inciarte are two decent players.  They have both accumulated a decent amount of WAR for their teams while still being under team control.  If Peraza ends up like either one of these guys, I don’t think the Todd Frazier trade will look so bad.

Now that I mentioned the Frazier trade, I’ll talk about it a bit more.  Many people don’t like it because it seemed the Reds targeted Peraza for speed and defense, and speed and defense aren’t super valuable.  While this may be true, they do have value and they derive their value from being fairly cheap and fairly consistent.  Barring injury, speed doesn’t slump and defense doesn’t slump unless your name is Chuck Knoblauch.  Regarding my “cheap” comment, players who accumulate value via speed and defense generally make less in arbitration and free agency than guys who accumulate their value via home runs and RBI (article coming later this year).

To wrap this up, I’d like to say I actually like the pick up of Peraza; I think I’m one of the few.  He won’t be a super star, and he won’t be Ichiro.  He will, however, have a very high likelihood of being a 1.5 to 2.0 WAR player for several years, while providing positional versatility.  In my opinion, he’s the kind of guy the Reds will need 1-2 of in order to have long periods of competitive teams given their inability to outspend people.

Just for fun, if you were to take the list of comps and sort it in reverse order (showing the most dissimilar players to Peraza) you get the following: Jack Cust, Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn, Votto, Ryan Howard, Paul Goldschmidt, Jim Thome, Chris Carter, Mike Trout, and Chris Davis.

Note: I specifically left out defense because of positional concerns. If Peraza were to be primarily a 2B/CF player, we’d see a very different list than if he were primarily a SS.  Also, speed correlates highly with defense, so it’s kind of baked in.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs